Saturday Nov 26, 201104:42 PM GMT
Yemenis hold major anti-govt. demos
Sat Apr 23, 2011 2:34AM
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Hundreds of thousands of anti-government protesters have held demonstrations in various parts of Yemen to demand an end to President Ali Abdullah Saleh's long rule.

The protesters spilled out along a three-mile (five-km) stretch of Sitteen Street in the capital Sana'a and in several other cities on Friday, a Press TV correspondent reported.

Protests in the southern city of Taizz turned violent after security forces clashed with the demonstrators, killing at least four people, including a soldier.

A 15-year-old boy, who was struck in the eye by a bullet in the northern province of Hagga, has bled to death, a military official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AP.

The killings have caused many of Saleh's closest allies to turn against him, and army units have defected. On Friday, the Yemeni authorities arrested dozens of soldiers and senior officers for joining anti-regime protesters.

The president, who has clung to power for the last 32 years, ridiculed the defectors, including ruling party members, lawmakers, cabinet ministers, top diplomats, and even his own tribe, calling them “cowards” and “renegades.”

Participants in Friday's protests, dubbed “The Last Chance Friday,” rejected the latest Arab initiative, which does not call for Saleh's immediate resignation but rather safeguards him, his family, and his allies.

The Arab plan has also given Saleh the option to resign with a guarantee that he would not be prosecuted. But protesters say they want him brought to justice.

Meanwhile, Saleh welcomed the initiative proposed by the (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council and said he is ready for a power transfer to his vice president through constitutional channels.

According to Yemeni law, Saleh's five-year presidential term expires in 2013.

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